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Human trafficking has become a scourge of the early 21st century.
The Ohio General Assembly is in the process of passing legislation to try to combat this modern abuse of children, especially teenagers.
Last June, the Ohio House passed House Bill 130, also known as the End Demand Act, by a 98-0 vote. After some stalling, the Senate now has the bill in committee, where it recently had its second hearing in the Senate's Criminal Justice Committee.
Sen. John Eklund, R-Munson Township, chairman of the committee, said his members are researching concerns about how the new law would affect defendants' rights to confront their accusers. A portion of the proposed legislation would prohibit most of victims' past sexual activity from being disclosed during trial and to permit some to testify via closed-circuit television.
Key provisions of the End Demand Act include harsher penalties for the solicitation of minors, restricting the use of "massage" and related terms in advertisement by unlicensed professionals, and applying Rape Shield laws to victims of human trafficking.
Ohio is the fifth highest in Human Trafficking in the U.S.
According to estimates, about 80 percent of trafficking involves sexual exploitation and 19 percent involves labor exploitation
There are approximately 30 million victims of slaveryi n the world today. This means there are more slaves in the world today than any one time in human history.
The average age a teen enters the U.S. sex trade is 12 to 14 years old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.
The End Demand Act recently had its second hearing in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee which saw strong support from across the state. If passed by the Senate, an emergency clause in the bill would allow for immediate enforcement of the provisions once the legislation is signed by the governor.
Human trafficking also returned to the news after the Super Bowl in New Jersey in early February. the FBI rescued 16 juveniles and arrested more than 45 pimps in conjunction with child sex trafficking operations that revolved around the biggest NFL game of the year.
Some of those arrested claimed to have traveled to New Jersey "for the purpose of prostituting women and children," the FBI press release said.
Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigation Division said high-profile events like the Super Bowl have become lucrative opportunities for child prostitution criminal enterprises.
The sex workers ranged from 13 to 17 years old and some of them had been reported missing by their families.